The aim of this study was to determine the potential role of leukocyte telomere length as a biomarker for development of childhood obesity in a low-income Latino population. A birth cohort of Latino children (N = 201) in San Francisco (recruited May 2006-May 2007) was followed until age 9 and assessed annually for obesity and dietary intake. Leukocyte telomere length was measured at 4 and 5 years (n = 102) and assessed as a predictor for obesity at age 9, adjusting for known risk factors. Furthermore, leukocyte telomere length at age 4 and 5 was evaluated as a possible mediator of the relationship between excessive sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and obesity at age 9. Shorter leukocyte telomere length in preschoolers was associated with obesity at age 9 (adjusted odds ratio 0.35, 95% confidence interval 0.13-0.94) after adjustment for known risk factors. Telomere length mediated 11% of the relationship between excessive sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and obesity. Shorter leukocyte telomere length may be an indicator of future obesity risk in high-risk populations as it is particularly sensitive to damage from oxidative stress exposure, including those from sugar-sweetened beverages.
Keywords: Latinos; childhood obesity; leukocyte telomere length; sugar-sweetened beverage.
© 2017 World Obesity Federation.